Most of us will have heard of the notion of the survival of the fittest.
This is the idea that over the countless generations of human existence it has been the fittest that have survived; the best hunters, the strong, the quick, the skilled, the most adaptable, etc. It was a major plank in Charles Darwin’s theory of Evolution.
In my idle moments I have sometimes wondered what it was in my generic history, the history of all those in my family tree, that has meant I am here today. When I look in the mirror I don’t see myself as the descendant of a big strong warrior type, let alone a fleet footed hunter.
So, how did my ancestors manage to survive?
Well, more recently I have heard people talk about a more significant skill than just being strong or fast, which is probably just a simplistic definition of fittest.
They talk about our capacity to form social connections as being part of our survival. That we can do more together to survive than we can on our own.
We see this today as our ability to form family and community, and this is what keeps us safe – safety in numbers, if you like.
But as we got more sophisticated, we wanted more than to just survive. We wanted to belong.
And this is what we still want. Especially our young people.
For so many of them coming to school is important because they can connect with others. Friends, teachers, staff.
Coming to school is important because here they can be reminded that here there is a place for them. Here they are valued. Here they matter.
And once they feel they belong, they can learn. In that order.
It is why St Francis Xavier College focuses on wellbeing as wellbeing for learning, and why we teach the skills of wellbeing. Why we work hard to help everyone have a sense that they belong. Why we try to be inclusive. Students will have heard me emphasise this inclusivity on so many different occasions, and I mean it deeply.
It is why we have so many events and moments that demonstrate our belonging and our inclusivity.
Witness the Year 12 Formal. Over 400 students, over 60 staff coming together to enjoy each other’s company, have fun and celebrate the great community that we are here. To see the various social groups interact, to see the healthy interaction between students and staff. This is to see inclusivity inaction.
Witness the planning and preparation for St Francis Xavier College Day which is coming up next Friday. All three campuses, students, staff, teachers, technical support staff combining their many talents to create a memorable event. An event which is designed to remind us not only that we belong, but to remind us of what we belong to.
A great school community.
It is an awesome day and I am so grateful that it is supported by students, staff and families. That they see it as a moment when we stop to say that my school community matters. My SFXC community.
To say that together we can do and be more.